Good Life

Child’s inquiry is highlight of mom’s busy day

Greeting the kids as they come in the door after school, I hear about homework, plans for after school, plans for the weekend, requests for rides, money or both. I smile as they head to their rooms, the computer or outside to play.

How was your day, Mom?

I got up at 5 a.m. to take the dog out and start laundry. I didn’t run this morning because it was raining, but at least I thought about it. Two cups of coffee in front of the computer while I checked three e-mail accounts, read the paper and checked the bank balances. I finished grading the papers that I was too tired to do last night and did some Internet research on that consulting project that will pay for an extra vacation this year. More laundry and then pushed the kids out the door to school.

I had to park in the parking garage at work. The lot next to my building was full. Turned on my computer, checked the mailroom and checked appointments for the day. Reviewed notes for class later that morning. Entered the grades from last night’s papers into the computer. Started on the pile of requests for letters of recommendation.

Course schedules for next semester. Internship options. Two back-to-back appointments were students with personal problems who just needed a listening ear. I called my husband to check in.

Class. Fifteen students in a 300-level course. It’s my favorite. I have a hard time keeping them on track because of the lively discussion. Tomorrow’s classes are bigger, have more freshmen and the students aren’t as engaged.

Lunch brought from home at my desk. Phone calls — scheduling orthodontist appointments, hotel reservations for a conference and checking to see if there is skiing after school. I finished the recommendations, but note one request came from a student who failed my class. I e-mailed him to let him know that I’m probably not his best reference.

Open hour. I reviewed materials for an upcoming academic-integrity committee meeting. A student accused of cheating is never easy. One of my graduating seniors stopped in to finalize his internship assignment and we chatted for a few minutes.

E-mails. Forwarding job postings that have come in from our alumni for the Web site. I chat with my colleagues.

Explained in a call from a parent that I can’t divulge information about his daughter’s grades without her permission. One of my colleagues pops in to ask about a student who earned a D in a course for which a C or better is required for the major. We talk about options.

Time to go home. Another stack of papers to grade at home for tomorrow’s class. Couldn’t find my car in the garage and walked around on the wrong floor for 10 minutes. Stopped at Wegmans and made it home just in time to take the dog out and greet everyone as they came in.

The evening means more laundry, carpooling, dinner, helping with homework and more work on the consulting project. I chat with husband about his day. I can’t keep my eyes open after 9:30 and fall into bed with dog asleep on the floor.

How was your day, Mom? It was great honey. Thanks for asking.

Patty Kleban is a mother of three children and undergraduate coordinator for recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State. Readers can e-mail her at